The World, the Flesh and the Devil presents a project developed by the American artist Marianne Vitale around the history of an American hospital built in France during the First World War.
This project was initiated and produced by Mosquito Coast Factory, with the support of the city of Savenay, DRAC Pays de la Loire, the Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire, the Loire-Atlantique Department, and SCI Stergann. It has three parts: Worthies, permanent installation near the Mabile Valley dam, Savenay, (2018); Amputations/Resurrections, exhibition at Mosquito Coast Factory, Campbon (2019); The World, the Flesh and the Devil, exhibition at the Couvent des Cordeliers, Savenay, (postponed from March 2020 until further notice).
- Published by Editions Lutanie & American Art Catalogues
- With an essay by Rachel Valinsky
- Translated by the English (American) by Manon Lutanie
- Published in January 2021
- Printed in Italy
- 750 copies
- 22,5 × 28 cm, 9 × 11 in., 120 pages
- Bilingual edition (French, English)
- ISBN: 978-1-64871-894-6
- Price: $40 + shipping costs
- Editor: Manon Lutanie
- Design: American Art Catalogues
Extracts from Rachel Valinksy's Essay
"The Onslaught of Time Acting Upon Materials": Decommissioning and Revival in the Work of Marianne Vitale
The commune of Savenay, in the Loire-Atlantique department of France, emerged onto the international stage in 1917, when it became host to the largest temporary American military hospital built in France during World War I. Three months after the United States entered the conflict after long maintaining a position of neutrality, American military personnel and medical officers arrived in Savenay in droves, with the goal of tactically outfitting key buildings and edifices in the area to provide medical support to the thousands ill and wounded on the front. [...]
A critical node in the war’s medical efforts, the commune of Savenay experienced, as the decades passed, the pull of entropy and historical amnesia. The intensification of life, modification of rhythms, and influx of people in the area brought about by the war subsided. Structures built quickly, for immediate relief, were repurposed or progressively fell into disuse; train tracks were covered over with vegetation or altogether removed. Of late, to counteract this erasure, renewed local attention to this significant site and the provisional cohabitation of French and American civic and military life on its soil has generated new research and initiatives to uncover a century-old history and revive its memory in the present.
It is against this backdrop that American artist Marianne Vitale began an ongoing engagement with the commune of Savenay, at the invitation of Léna Chevalier and Benoît-Marie Moriceau of Mosquito Coast Factory in Campbon (an organization dedicated to contemporary art), and in partnership with local cultural heritage organizations. Over three years and several site visits, Vitale developed a three-part project in response to the site. It was comprised of both new and past works, which, exhibited in this context, took on fortuitous new implications. Manifesting in a permanent outdoor installation in the Mabile Valley and exhibitions at Mosquito Coast Factory and the Convent of the
Cordeliers of Savenay, Vitale’s proposition resurfaced the historical past as a vital resource and ushered it into a constellation of motifs that run consistently through her work.
The last century’s international struggle comes into strange parallax with our own time. Invited to write this text about Marianne Vitale’s work, I launched on the long arch of research and reflection as New York City, where I live, and the world at large, was seized by a global epidemic. [...]
Both consciously and unwittingly, Vitale’s work at Savenay is marked by these and more intersecting conditions and histories, inhabiting a mode that is at once speculative, anticipatory, and retrospective. Displaced, transposed, standing in for, and harking back to, her work maps a network of relations and associations that often speaks to the present and to futures imagined from a past time, not quite eclipsed but fundamentally withered. She uses now-decommissioned materials and objects to interrogate the myths upon which cosmologies of modernity are based, whether the pioneering ideologies of Manifest Destiny and Westward expansion, the history and infrastructure of industrialization, American vernacular architecture, or genealogies of modernism in art history. Retrieving these myths, too, as ruins and subjects, she carries them forward into a fraught potentiality for the otherwise. [...]
Marianne Vitale’s work has long looked to the material infrastructure of the railroad system in the United States, taking up its ruins as relics of the industrial zeal that engineered raw iron into steel, coal into combustion.
Marianne Vitale (b. 1973) uses now-decommissioned materials and objects to interrogate the myths upon which cosmologies of modernity are based, whether the pioneering ideologies of Manifest Destiny and Westward expansion, the history and infrastructure of industrialization, American vernacular architecture, or genealogies of modernism in art history. Her work has been exhibited throughout New York including The High Line; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Journal Gallery; White Columns; Karma; Zach Feuer Gallery; The Sculpture Center; Invisible-Exports; The Elaine de Kooning House, East Hampton; and Performa. Across the United States her work has appeared at The Contemporary Austin, Texas; Venus Over Los Angeles; Various Small Fires, LA; and the Rubell Family Collection,
Miami. Overseas presentations include Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin; Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers; UKS, Oslo; Tensta Kunsthall, Stockholm; Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria; Kling & Bang, Iceland; Saatchi Gallery, London. She graduated from School of Visual Arts, New York in 1996. She lives and works in New York City.